The Wall of Separation Blog https://www.au.org/ en Yeshiva And Seminary Withdraw Applications For State Funding In N.J. In Response To Americans United And ACLU Suit https://www.au.org/blogs/NJ-aid-case <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Yeshiva And Seminary Withdraw Applications For State Funding In N.J. In Response To Americans United And ACLU Suit</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 01/27/2020 - 10:35</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/princeton%20theo%20sem%20%28flickr%20user%20Luke%20Jones%29%20.jpg?h=29821e69&amp;itok=72dMCrZW" width="1700" height="525" alt="chapel " title="NJ chapel " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Americans United has long opposed taxpayer support for religious education. We believe – as the founders did – that houses of worship and their schools do best when they’re funded voluntarily by the people who believe in their mission, not the taxpayers.</p> <p>We’re happy to report a recent success vindicating this important principle. It took seven years to achieve, but we’re glad to have it.</p> <p>In 2013, Americans United and American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey (ACLU-NJ) spoke out after we learned that Chris Christie, then governor of New Jersey, planned to direct more than $11 million in taxpayer aid to two higher education institutions that primarily provide theological training – Beth Medrash Govoha and Princeton Theological Seminary.</p> <p>The two grants were part of a package of aid to fund various construction projects at New Jersey institutions of higher education. AU and ACLU-NJ pointed out that the two grants violated a provision of the New Jersey Constitution that expressly prohibits awarding taxpayer funding to ministries or places of worship.</p> <p>Beth Medrash Govoha, an orthodox yeshiva in Lakewood, was slated to receive $10.6 million from the state to pay for the construction of a new academic center and a new library. Beth Medrash Govoha students spend virtually all their time at the school studying the Talmud and interpretations of it. The school not only provides students an intensive religious education but also enables students to devote most of their time to what is, to them, a central form of religious exercise. The school only admits males, all of its students are Jewish and all of its faculty are male Jews.</p> <p>Similarly, Princeton Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian institution, was scheduled to be awarded $645,323 from the state for information-technology training and upgrades. The seminary’s mission is to prepare students to serve as ministers, educators or other theological leaders in Christian religious traditions. The seminary requires all of its degree students and all of its faculty to be Christian.</p> <p>AU and ACLU-NJ were unable to persuade the Christie administration to stop the grants, so in June 2013, together with the national ACLU, <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/civil-liberties-groups-challenge-taxpayer-funding-of-religious-ministries-in">we filed a lawsuit</a> in state court to block them. An intermediate state appellate court ruled in our favor, but in May 2018 the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a ruling sending the matter back to the New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education to develop the facts of the case in greater detail.</p> <p>But both educational institutions involved eventually decided to stop seeking funding from the state. Princeton Theological Seminary withdrew its application for aid in April 2019. And earlier this month, on the eve of a week-long evidentiary hearing, Beth Medrash Govoha notified state officials that it would no longer pursue the grants through any state processes.</p> <p>AU Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luchenitser, a member of the litigation team for the case, praised these developments, stating, “It’s a violation of religious freedom to force taxpayers to support religious education or religion-based discrimination.”</p> <p>ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Karen Thompson said, “We will always strongly affirm the right to practice one’s religious beliefs. However, we will also continue to fight the unconstitutional use of New Jersey taxpayer dollars to fund religious training and religion-based discriminatory policies.”</p> <p>The attorneys for Beth Medrash Govoha made it clear that the institution’s leaders weren’t pleased that the institution hadn’t been paid the grants it had sought. They should be, though. Religion in America has prospered thanks to the voluntary support it receives. Relying on government assistance not only violates the fundamental freedom of conscience of taxpayers, it also puts the state in a position of control and authority over private religious matters. Ensuring that institutions like Princeton Theological Seminary and Beth Medrash Govoha are privately funded is the best result for all concerned. </p> <p><em>Photo: Miller Chapel at Princeton Theological Seminary. By Flickr user Luke Jones. </em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/taxpayer-funding-of-religion" hreflang="en">Taxpayer Funding Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/new-jersey" hreflang="en">New Jersey</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-lawsuits field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Lawsuits</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/lawsuit/aclu-of-new-jersey-v-hendricks" hreflang="en">ACLU of New Jersey v. Hendricks</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 27 Jan 2020 15:35:00 +0000 boston 15980 at https://www.au.org Is Your Local Librarian Going To Jail? Maybe – If This Mo. Legislator Has His Way https://www.au.org/blogs/Missouri-library-bill <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Is Your Local Librarian Going To Jail? Maybe – If This Mo. Legislator Has His Way</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Thu, 01/23/2020 - 10:23</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/librarian%2C%201.23.20.jpg?h=0f098622&amp;itok=jXHNvcLi" width="1700" height="525" alt="librarian " title="librarian " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A bill <a href="https://khqa.com/news/local/missouri-librarians-could-face-jail-time-according-to-new-proposed-bill-01-22-2020">has been introduced</a> in the Missouri legislature that threatens public libraries with revocation of funding and even jail time for librarians if they allow children to get their hands on “age-inappropriate” materials.</p> <p>Sponsored by state Rep. Ben Baker (R-Neosho), <a href="https://house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills201/hlrbillspdf/4634H.01I.pdf">H.B. 2044</a> would establish five-member “parental library review boards” that would be empowered to hold public hearings – in essence putting books, publications and even library events – on trial and restrict access to material deemed inappropriate for minors.</p> <p>Proposals to instill censorship in public libraries pop up from time to time, usually couched in the language of “protect the children.” In the 1990s, Religious Right groups attempted to remove material about LGBTQ issues and “the occult” from public libraries by forming a pressure group called Family Friendly Libraries.</p> <p>As AU learned from that experience, all of the talk about “age-inappropriate material” – deliberately a very vague term open to a wide interpretation – is really just a ruse intolerant religious fundamentalists use hoping to rid libraries of materials they don’t like, and almost always that’s anything with an LGBTQ theme. Far from protecting children, what they’re trying to do is restrict access to a host of material that offends their religious sensibilities. Their narrow interpretation of faith would become the yardstick to determine what everyone else can see, read and experience.</p> <p>It’s easy to see how these review boards could be taken over by religious zealots with very broad definitions of what constitutes “age-inappropriate.” Material could become inaccessible to the audience who needs it most: kids who just want accurate information about a host of issues that young people face every day, including sexuality.</p> <p>We’ve been down this road before. In the 1950s, Americans United fought back against heavy-handed religion-based censorship that restricted not only what Americans could read but what they could see in films and in stage plays. Early in the 20th century, this type of censorship inspired by prudish “anti-vice societies” was very common in some parts of the country – “<a href="https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2012/05/23/banned-in-boston/">Banned in Boston</a>,” anyone? Usually, all they ended up doing was censoring books that are today considered classics.</p> <p>It took some time to break this grip, but break it we did. Today, there are those among us who yearn to bring it back under the misguided cry of saving our children.</p> <p>If these people really cared about children, they wouldn’t use them as foils in a gambit to deny information and foster ignorance. Instead, they’d support public libraries as the necessary and vital resource that they are.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/censorship" hreflang="en">censorship</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/public-libraries" hreflang="en">public libraries</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-right-0" hreflang="en">Religious Right</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/missouri" hreflang="en">Missouri</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 23 Jan 2020 15:23:28 +0000 boston 15979 at https://www.au.org Supreme Court Deliberates Forced Taxpayer Support For Religion https://www.au.org/blogs/oral-argument-montana <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Supreme Court Deliberates Forced Taxpayer Support For Religion </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed, 01/22/2020 - 13:42</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/RKL%2C%20Alex%20and%20Richard%20outside%20supreme%20court%20.jpg?h=d9f819c6&amp;itok=qcBHL4GI" width="1700" height="525" alt="supreme court" title="supreme court" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The U.S. Supreme Court this morning heard oral arguments in <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/from-no-aid-to-must-aid-a-pending-us">an important case</a> dealing with taxpayer funding of religious institutions – and Americans United President and CEO Rachel Laser and several AU attorneys were there to listen in. At issue in <em>Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue</em> is a question that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago: Are there situations in which the government is <em>required</em> to give public support to religious schools?</p> <p>Montana’s legislature passed a school voucher program that used tax credits to divert public funds to private religious schools. But the state’s constitution is quite clear: It contains a religious freedom provision that protects Montana residents from being compelled to support religious institutions. Thus, the Montana Supreme Court invalidated the entire program.</p> <p>Voucher advocates, including the Trump administration, are arguing that if a state chooses to adopt a voucher plan, it must include religious schools – no matter what that state’s constitution may say. If this standard is adopted, it will greatly weaken, if not obliterate, provisions in 37 state constitutions that protect people from being taxed to support religion.</p> <p>The argument at the court this morning was spirited, and it was gratifying to hear some of the justices make the obvious point that opposition to compelled support for religion has a long and distinguished lineage in America.</p> <p>Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the idea that the government may in some cases be required to support religion “a radical proposition” and invoked James Madison, noting that the Father of the Constitution was a lifelong opponent of forced support for religion.</p> <p>Justice Stephen Breyer also seemed to understand that the ruling in this case could affect public education funding. He repeatedly pressed the attorneys arguing in favor of the voucher plan to answer whether states should be able to retain the option of funding only public schools.</p> <p>But the conservative faction had its say as well. Justice Brett Kavanaugh asserted that provisions like the one in the Montana Constitution reflect anti-religion animus (overlooking the fact that the language in Montana, while similar to a 19th century clause, was enacted in 1972 with the support of many religious leaders). Justice Samuel A. Alito also weighed in, insisting that if states decide to fund private education, they can’t exclude religious schools.</p> <p>Some of the justices made this case sound like a hard one, but it’s not. Public money should go to public schools, and no one should be compelled to pay for the religion of another.</p> <p>Laser put it well in a <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/01/21/do-you-want-your-tax-dollars-fund-religious-education-you-shouldnt/">recent op-ed</a> in <em>The Washington Post</em>: “Some claim that not funding private religious education when private secular education is funded amounts to religious discrimination. They have it backward. Prohibiting government funding of religion protects religious freedom. Religious institutions that accept government money open themselves up to government interference, risk internal divisions and jeopardize their ability to be self-supporting in the future. A diverse array of religions have been able to thrive in America because of — not despite — the separation of religion and government.”</p> <p>This is not a hard case. To resolve it, all the Supreme Court needs to do is look at our history and reaffirm the traditional concept that religion in America does best when it’s supported by contributions given voluntarily, not funds forced from the wallets of taxpayers.</p> <p><em>Photo (from left): Associate Legal Director Alex J. Luchenitser, President and CEO Rachel Laser and Legal Director Richard B. Katskee outside U.S. Supreme Court</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/taxpayer-funding-of-religion" hreflang="en">Taxpayer Funding Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/montana" hreflang="en">Montana</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/espinoza-v-montana" hreflang="en">Espinoza v. Montana</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 22 Jan 2020 18:42:52 +0000 boston 15978 at https://www.au.org Tennessee Should Put Kids First And Reject Discrimination https://www.au.org/blogs/Tennessee-foster-care <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Tennessee Should Put Kids First And Reject Discrimination</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/69587" lang="" about="/user/69587" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">LHayes</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 01/21/2020 - 13:19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/nik-nartowicz" hreflang="en">Nik Nartowicz</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/Sad%20kid%20on%20swing%20reversed_0.jpg?h=9220cbd3&amp;itok=fRE1jUpd" width="1700" height="525" alt="Sad child on swing" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The very first thing the Tennessee Senate did when it reconvened last week was pass a bill to allow discrimination that would harm children in foster care. HB 836, passed by the House last year, would authorize taxpayer-funded foster care agencies to turn away couples seeking to foster or adopt children because they are LGBTQ or the “wrong” religion. </p> <p>Republican Gov. Bill Lee said he intends to sign this harmful bill (even telling one news outlet that <a href="https://www.newschannel5.com/news/gov-lee-says-he-signed-lgbt-adoption-refusal-bill-to-protect-religious-liberty">he already had</a>). If he does, the law would undermine the bedrock child welfare standard that requires these foster care agencies to provide services based solely on what is in the best interest of the child. He will be hurting kids in need of loving homes and the families that want to provide for them.</p> <p>Across the country, there are more than 111,000 children in care who are eligible for adoption; there are nearly 9,000 kids in foster care just in Tennessee. Many states already face a shortage of families willing to take care of these kids. By allowing taxpayer-funded agencies to refuse to work with families that are a different religion or LGBTQ, HB 836 would only compound that problem. Because when an agency refuses to work with qualified parents, children in care face increased wait times, and the number of youth leaving care without finding their forever family increases.</p> <p>Our client, <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/maddonna-v-dept-of-health-and-human-services">Aimee Maddonna</a>, knows the harm these bills can cause. Aimee, a Catholic mother of three, grew up in a family that provided a home for countless children in foster care. She tried to work with Miracle Hill Ministries, a government-funded foster care agency. Miracle Hill initially told her that her family was a great fit to work with kids. But after Aimee told Miracle Hill that she is Catholic, she was turned away because Miracle Hill only works with people who are evangelical Protestants (the agency has since said it will consider Catholics who will sign the agency’s statement of faith, which doesn’t align with Aimee’s beliefs). That’s why, with our help, Aimee is suing her home state of South Carolina and the federal government to stop these discriminatory policies.</p> <p>Aimee isn’t alone in facing discrimination. Lydia Currie also reached out to Miracle Hill so that she and her husband could adopt, but <a href="https://www.jta.org/2019/02/05/opinion/i-was-barred-from-becoming-a-foster-parent-because-i-am-jewish">she was turned away</a> because she is Jewish. Beth Lesser, who is also Jewish, attended a three-day training to learn more about mentoring children in care but <a href="https://theintercept.com/2018/10/19/south-carolina-foster-parent-discrimination-miracle-hill-ministries/">was told on the last day</a> that non-Protestants were not welcome.</p> <p>If Tennessee’s bill becomes law, it’s only a matter of time before this kind of religious discrimination could happen in the state. HB 836 undermines religious freedom, which gives Americans the right to believe, or not, as they choose, but it does not give anyone the right to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against kids and families. That’s especially true when organizations, like these adoption and foster care agencies, get public funding to provide a service on behalf of the government. No taxpayer-funded organization should be able to use religion to justify refusing to place them in a safe and happy family because of the religion of the prospective parents.</p> <p>By signing this bill, Gov. Lee would put the religious beliefs of child-placing agencies ahead of the best interests of the children whom the agencies contract with the state to serve. Instead, he should put kids first. There’s still time.</p> <p>P.S. This bill is part of <a href="https://www.au.org/tags/project-blitz">Project Blitz</a>, a nefarious political movement that is sweeping through state legislatures across the country with an agenda aimed at establishing the U.S. as a Christian nation. Project Blitz has the goal of passing an increasingly ambitious set of state laws to incrementally tear down the separation of religion and government, promote prayer in public schools and misuse religious freedom to justify discrimination. AU and allies are tracking Project Blitz and working to block it from spreading. <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">Join us!</a></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-funded-discrimination" hreflang="en">Government-Funded Discrimination</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/denials-of-service" hreflang="en">Denials of Service</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-minorities-rights" hreflang="en">Religious Minorities&#039; Rights</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/foster-care" hreflang="en">foster care</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/tennessee" hreflang="en">Tennessee</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 21 Jan 2020 18:19:23 +0000 LHayes 15975 at https://www.au.org Americans United Scores Win In Contraceptive Access Case https://www.au.org/blogs/notre-dame-ruling <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Americans United Scores Win In Contraceptive Access Case</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 01/20/2020 - 08:38</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/womem%20in%20classroom.jpg?h=437566a1&amp;itok=NtxQoW1F" width="1700" height="525" alt="classroom" title="classroom " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>A federal court last week handed down an important ruling in a case sponsored by Americans United and its allies that seeks to protect access to birth control for students and staff at the University of Notre Dame.</p> <p>The case <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/au-and-allies-sue-trump-administration-and-notre-dame-over-back-door">was filed</a> in the summer of 2018 after Notre Dame officials cited religious objections in announcing that the school would end students’ and faculty’s coverage for certain forms of birth control – even though this violates the Affordable Care Act.</p> <p>It came to light that Notre Dame had dropped the coverage as the result of a secret settlement agreement between the Trump administration and university officials. Our lawsuit challenges that arrangement and rules issued by the administration that allow many employers and universities to take birth control coverage away from employees and students. Several lawsuits challenging the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce access to birth control are moving through the courts, but this is the only one representing women who’ve lost access. (AU and its allies are representing several individual students and a student group, Irish 4 Reproductive Health, which works to advance reproductive justice at the university and in the surrounding community.)</p> <p>When the case was argued in court, AU President and CEO Rachel Laser reminded us of what’s at stake.</p> <p>“No one – not bosses, universities or the government – should be able to impose their religious beliefs on anyone else, especially when doing so would harm people’s health,” Laser said. “Students and families depend on affordable access to birth control. We won’t allow the Trump administration and its backroom deals with the University of Notre Dame to undermine women’s reproductive freedom and weaponize religious freedom. We are ready to fight in court today and every day to protect those fundamental freedoms.”</p> <p>The Trump administration tried to squash the lawsuit, but on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Philip P. Simon of the Northern District of Indiana ruled that the case <a href="https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/local/judge-lawsuit-against-notre-dame-over-coverage-for-contraception-can/article_644a565c-3956-11ea-835b-7fa8cf8f0d07.html">may go forward</a>.</p> <p>AU brought the suit along with the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Center for Reproductive Rights and the law firm of Fried Frank. Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of NWLC, issued a statement remarking, “Today’s ruling sends a clear message to the Trump-Pence Administration that it cannot deny birth control coverage by entering into backroom deals or issuing unlawful rules. The Administration is once again trying to circumvent the law, and it must end. This is a win not only for Notre Dame students, but for everyone seeking access to birth control. We will keep fighting until every person across the country has the birth control coverage guaranteed to them by law, no matter where they work or go to school.”</p> <p>Yes, we will. Access to safe, affordable birth control is a vital part of Americans’ health care. It must not be blocked due to religious objections. With your <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">help and support</a>, AU and its allies will see this case through to a successful conclusion.</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/reproductive-rights" hreflang="en">Reproductive Rights</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/birth-control-benefit" hreflang="en">Birth Control Benefit</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/university-of-notre-dame" hreflang="en">University of Notre Dame</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/womens-health" hreflang="en">women&#039;s health</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-lawsuits field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Lawsuits</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/lawsuit/university-of-notre-dame-v-price" hreflang="en">University of Notre Dame v. Price</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 20 Jan 2020 13:38:13 +0000 boston 15974 at https://www.au.org Trump Administration Marks Religious Freedom Day By Mocking That Principle https://www.au.org/blogs/trump-religious-freedom-day <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Trump Administration Marks Religious Freedom Day By Mocking That Principle</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 01/17/2020 - 12:30</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/trum%20prayer%20wh%20event%20.jpg?h=27bebe61&amp;itok=__hmRrtz" width="1700" height="525" alt="religious guidance " title="guidelines " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Yesterday was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Religious_Freedom_Day">Religious Freedom Day</a>, so naturally, the Trump administration celebrated by trashing that very principle.</p> <p>The administration unleashed a one-two punch against the First Amendment. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General William Barr <a href="https://religionnews.com/2020/01/16/trump-pledges-to-prevent-unacceptable-repression-of-school-prayer/">issued a guidance</a> that allegedly provides advice about religious activity in public schools, and eight federal agencies <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-01-16/white-house-changes-religions-freedom-rules">released proposed rules</a> that roll back religious freedom protections for people who get government-funded social services.</p> <p>The school prayer guidelines look fairly innocuous on the surface, but when you go a little deeper, you see that they promote prayer at every turn and imply that certain types of supposedly “student-led” prayer can be woven into school-sponsored events, a dubious proposition to say the least.</p> <p>More alarmingly, the guidelines require states to collect and investigate reports of alleged violations of the right to engage in religious activities from public school students and staff. States must forward all of these to federal officials – even the ones that have no merit. Trump’s increasingly theocratic Justice Department will undoubtedly use these stories to harass public schools that are upholding the separation of church and state all over the nation.</p> <p>The proposed faith-based rules are equally troubling. If these rules are adopted, people in need will find important protections simply swept away. There will no longer be a requirement that vulnerable people have the right to ask for an alternative provider if they feel unwelcome or uncomfortable getting services at a faith-based provider. This puts people’s chances of getting help at risk because they may feel pressured to participate in religious activity.</p> <p>The proposed rules also pave the way for discrimination. The harms will fall most heavily on religious minorities and members of the LGBTQ community.</p> <p>This administration seems to believe that religious freedom can’t prosper unless someone’s rights are being violated. That isn’t just false, it’s offensive to the very spirit and promise of the First Amendment. The Trump administration sticks that grotesque notion in the nation’s face repeatedly. Pushing it away is not enough; we must explain to everyone why it’s counter to our nation’s most powerful ideals.</p> <p>Religious freedom does not foster oppression and discrimination – quite the opposite, it rebukes those things. It is about protecting an individual’s rights, not allowing someone else to trash them in the name of faith.</p> <p>That the administration would issue these guidelines and regulations on Religious Freedom Day – an event that marks the passage of Thomas Jefferson’s pioneering <a href="https://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/virginia-statute-religious-freedom">Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom</a> – only shows how much Trump, Barr, DeVos, et al hold that principle in contempt.</p> <p>There’s a remedy: Fight back, dispel the lies and expose these misguided measures for the reckless, freedom-squelching schemes that they are.</p> <p>Americans United intends to do just that. We’d love to have <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">your help</a>.</p> <p>P.S. Yesterday afternoon, Trump held an event to herald the release of the prayer guidelines. Among the speakers was a high school student from Pike County, Ky., who complained that Americans United had forced her school to shut down a “prayer locker” after learning that public school staff had helped create it. <a href="http://www.news-expressky.com/news/article_afd33c58-f1ec-11e9-b0c7-737f54f37978.html">We did do that</a> – because it’s not legal for staff to promote religious activities for students. And needless to say, the guidelines Trump has issued would not have made one whit of difference because they can’t change the Constitution.</p> <p><em>Photo: Screenshot of White House event from C-SPAN</em></p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-minorities-rights" hreflang="en">Religious Minorities&#039; Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/religious-freedom-day" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom Day</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump Administration</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 17 Jan 2020 17:30:51 +0000 boston 15972 at https://www.au.org On The Supreme Court’s Docket: Forcing Taxpayers To Pay For Religious Education And Discrimination https://www.au.org/blogs/montana-case-high-court <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">On The Supreme Court’s Docket: Forcing Taxpayers To Pay For Religious Education And Discrimination</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Wed, 01/15/2020 - 08:56</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/US%20Supreme%20Court%20cropped_0.jpg?h=591f0dba&amp;itok=Q7lFwbVe" width="1700" height="525" alt="supreme court" title="supreme court" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>One week from today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an important case dealing with whether taxpayers can be forced to fund religious education and religious discrimination.</p> <p>The case, <em>Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue,</em> began after Montana legislators passed <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/october-2019-church-state-magazine/cover-story/from-no-aid-to-must-aid-a-pending-us">a neo-voucher scheme</a> called the Montana Tax Credit Scholarship Program in 2015. Similar to programs proposed in other states, the convoluted plan funneled taxpayer money into the coffers of private religious schools.</p> <p>It’s clear what Big Sky lawmakers were up to: They wanted to subsidize private religious education, even though Montana’s Constitution contains a provision explicitly protecting residents from being forced to support “direct or indirect” tax aid for religious purposes.</p> <p>The Montana Supreme Court correctly struck down the plan, calling it a clear violation of the state constitution. More than 90 percent of private school vouchers in Montana funded private religious schools, and 70 percent of all private schools in the state teach a religious curriculum.</p> <p>The U.S. Supreme Court now will hear the case, which is troubling. The high court’s decision could set a dangerous precedent, eroding church-state separation not just in Montana, but in three-quarters of U.S. states. Voucher proponents have made it crystal clear that they want to pave the way for private school voucher schemes across the country by gutting the religious freedom provisions that exist in the constitutions of at least 37 states.</p> <p>Not only do private school voucher programs force taxpayers to fund religious education, but they also force taxpayers to fund discrimination. Private religious schools have free rein to discriminate against children and families if they don’t share the school’s religious beliefs, if a student or parent is LGBTQ, if the child has a disability, or if they don’t follow a school’s religious tenets such as accepting Jesus Christ as their personal savior or having premarital sex.</p> <p>AU’s research shows that of the 12 religious schools participating in Montana’s voucher program, at least 10 had discriminatory policies.</p> <p>In November, Americans United, joined by 17 other civil rights and religious freedom organizations, filed <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/january-2020-church-state-magazine/people-events/dont-force-support-for-faith">a legal brief</a> urging the high court to respect the traditional American principle of religious freedom.</p> <p>“The founders believed that it was critical to protect individuals’ freedom of conscience against the coercive extraction of tax funds to support religion,” observes the brief. “They also thought it vital to shield religion and religious institutions from the deleterious effects of governmental support and interference: dependency of religious institutions on the state, compromise of religious beliefs, and strife among religious denominations. They therefore exhorted against public subsidies for religious ministries – including religious education, which is not only a vital function of religious ministries but also essential to generating adherents and maintaining those ministries over time and across communities.”</p> <p>Never before has the Supreme Court ruled that states <em>must</em> fund religious education. It would be an extraordinary federal intrusion into the constitutional and public education affairs of our states.</p> <p>We must protect the precedent that all states have the right to ensure taxpayer dollars are not used to fund religious education. This is the core of our fundamental American principle of religious freedom – that everyone has the right to support their faith, or no faith at all, as long as they don’t harm others.</p> <p>The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold the founders’ vision and make it clear that forcing Americans to pay for someone else’s religion is fundamentally unconstitutional and un-American.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/taxpayer-funding-of-religion" hreflang="en">Taxpayer Funding Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/private-school-vouchers" hreflang="en">Private School Vouchers</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/montana" hreflang="en">Montana</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/espinoza-v-montana" hreflang="en">Espinoza v. Montana</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 15 Jan 2020 13:56:24 +0000 boston 15970 at https://www.au.org Yes, Marriage Equality Is The Law – Even In Tennessee https://www.au.org/blogs/Tenn-marriage-equality <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Yes, Marriage Equality Is The Law – Even In Tennessee</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Tue, 01/14/2020 - 09:42</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/same%20sex%20wedding%20with%20cake%20.jpg?h=01b8fcf0&amp;itok=V9lWd-nV" width="1700" height="525" alt="wedding" title="marriage ceremony" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>The U.S. Supreme Court upheld marriage equality in a landmark case five years ago. Prior to the ruling in <em><a href="https://www.oyez.org/cases/2014/14-556">Obergefell v. Hodges</a></em>, Christian nationalist groups asserted that if same-sex couples were allowed to have the same right to marry as opposite-sex couples, the country <a href="https://www.au.org/church-state/december-2014-church-state/featured/apocalypse-now">would collapse</a>.</p> <p>That hasn’t happened. Furthermore, most Americans support the ruling. <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States">Depending on which poll you look at</a>, 61 percent to 68 percent of Americans back marriage equality. The figure is even higher <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2015/06/26/almost-millennials-support-same-sex-marriage/upgBZbZ9IvJXY0ZMOElgtN/story.html">among millennials</a>. The country, it seems, sees the issue as no big deal and has moved on.</p> <p>Well, most of the country has. In Tennessee, a lawyer named David Fowler and a band of far-right ministers he represents aren’t happy about the situation. Under the auspices of a group called the Family Action Council of Tennessee’s Constitutional Government Defense Fund, <a href="https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/life/faith/story/2020/jan/07/lawyer-says-tennessees-county-clerks-are-viol/512415/">they’re writing letters</a> to local officials hoping to spread confusion about the issue.</p> <p>The <em>Chattanooga</em> <em>Times Free Press</em> reports that Fowler sent a letter to all 95 county clerks in Tennessee, asserting that they are violating the law by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.</p> <p>Fowler cites a provision of the Tennessee Constitution that limits marriage to opposite-sex couples. It is true that in 2006, Tennessee voters approved an anti-marriage equality amendment. It stated that the union of “one man and one woman shall be the only legally recognized marital contract in this state.” Several states had approved amendments like this, but they were invalidated by the <em>Obergefell</em> decision. They are no longer in effect.</p> <p>Essentially, Fowler is asking county clerks to defy the U.S. Supreme Court. While there is an unfortunate history of that kind of behavior in some southern states, we know how it turned out – <a href="https://www.au.org/media/press-releases/americans-united-applauds-ala-chief-justice-roy-moore-s-suspension-for-defying">recalcitrant government officials lost</a>.</p> <p>Fowler and his clergy pals may not like it, but marriage equality is the law of the land, even in Tennessee. County clerks who have received his missive would be wise to give it all of the attention and consideration it deserves – by tossing it in the nearest trash can.</p> <p>Government officials are public servants and must treat all Americans equally and fairly. They can’t refuse to serve people because of who they are, who they love or what they believe. Religious freedom means we all get to choose our faith, or no faith at all, as long as we don’t harm others. Americans United will continue to protect this fundamental principle – <a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">join us</a>!</p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/lgbtq-rights" hreflang="en">LGBTQ Rights</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/marriage-equality" hreflang="en">Marriage Equality</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-by-public-officials" hreflang="en">Discrimination by Public Officials</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/discrimination-in-the-name-of-religion" hreflang="en">Discrimination In The Name of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/churches-and-gay-marriage" hreflang="en">churches and gay marriage</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/tennessee" hreflang="en">Tennessee</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-lawsuits field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Lawsuits</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/lawsuit/obergefell-v-hodges-0" hreflang="en">Obergefell v. Hodges</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 14 Jan 2020 14:42:42 +0000 boston 15969 at https://www.au.org In New York, These Municipal Legislators Took Their Oaths Of Office On A Non-Religious Book https://www.au.org/blogs/new-york-oaths <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">In New York, These Municipal Legislators Took Their Oaths Of Office On A Non-Religious Book</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Mon, 01/13/2020 - 10:13</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/oath%20cropped%2C%201.30.19_0.jpg?h=80631165&amp;itok=SdeYbJ25" width="1700" height="525" alt="oath " title="oath" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>Something unusual happened in Manlius, N.Y., recently: Three of four newly elected members of the Town Board opted to take their oaths of office on a book containing the town codes.</p> <p>The three – John Deer, Elaine Denton and Heather Waters – put a hand on the codes book during their Dec. 30 swearing-in. The fourth new member, Katelyn Kriesel, chose to use a Bible, <a href="https://www.syracuse.com/news/2020/01/3-democrats-skip-bible-for-manlius-swearing-in-cermony-use-town-code-book-instead.html">reported the news site</a> Syracuse.com. </p> <p>Deer, Denton and Waters, who are all Democrats, said they had various reasons for using the codes book. Deer said he is an atheist who believes in separation of church and state, and Denton said using a legal book just seemed right for her.</p> <p>Americans United reached out to all three via email and Twitter to thank them for standing up for separation of church and state. In an email with Americans United, Waters went into a little more detail about her decision to use the codes book.</p> <p>“I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to swear-in on before the ceremony,” Waters said. “I thought if it were about reflecting who I am, maybe a work by Fayetteville suffragist Matilda Joslyn Gage. But I also thought maybe a text wasn’t necessary. And if I had one on hand, I suppose I would have chosen New York state’s constitution over our codes book – a binder with some flapping yellow Post- It notes.</p> <p>“I knew I would not choose the Bible because I believe that it confuses people about our commitment to the separation of the practice of one’s individual faith and our participation in government,” she added. “Also, it is not inclusive. The Bible is not every one of my constituents’ holy text, and I want someone to gauge my character and ability to serve by my actions, not by my professed faith.”</p> <p>Waters said she has received mostly positive responses from the community. (Manlius is located in Onondaga County, east of Syracuse.)</p> <p>“I received terrific feedback from many people in my neighborhood and community, including a number of those of the Jewish faith,” she said. “There were over 700 comments on the article, and only a few people convinced I was going to hell or trying to be trendy.”</p> <p>Contrary to popular belief, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/us/politics/presidential-oath-of-office.html">nothing in the U.S. Constitution</a> requires officeholders to take an oath of office on the Bible (or any other book, for that matter).  Although most legislators still follow that tradition, some are going in other directions.</p> <p>Muslim members in Congress have opted to be sworn in on copies of the Quran, and U.S. Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) was sworn in on a law book in 2017.</p> <p>Last year, Kelli Dunaway, a newly elected member of the St. Louis County Council in Missouri, <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/US/missouri-councilwoman-dr-seuss-book-sworn-office/story?id=65096396">chose to be sworn in</a> on a copy of <em>Oh, The Places You’ll Go!</em>, a book by famous children’s author Dr. Seuss.</p> <p>Although individual conscience should be the guide here, swearing-in on a book of laws, as Deer, Denton and Waters did, makes sense. After all, it’s those laws – and not any dictates found in the Bible or any other religious tome – that elected officials vow to uphold.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/religious-freedom" hreflang="en">Religious Freedom</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/oaths" hreflang="en">oaths</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/new-york" hreflang="en">New York</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/constitution" hreflang="en">Constitution</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 13 Jan 2020 15:13:34 +0000 boston 15967 at https://www.au.org An Indiana Lawmaker Wants ‘In God We Trust’ Signs In Public Schools. Here’s Why That’s A Bad Idea. https://www.au.org/blogs/Indiana-IGWT-bill <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">An Indiana Lawmaker Wants ‘In God We Trust’ Signs In Public Schools. Here’s Why That’s A Bad Idea.</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"><a title="View user profile." href="/user/95" lang="" about="/user/95" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" class="username">boston</a></span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">Fri, 01/10/2020 - 10:43</span> <div class="field field--name-field-authored-by field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Authored by</label> <div class="item"><a href="/about/people/rob-boston" hreflang="und">Rob Boston</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-image field--type-image"> <label>Image</label> <div class="item"> <img src="/sites/default/files/styles/banner/public/images/blog_post/diverse%20school%20kids%201.10.20.jpg?h=d3dcb872&amp;itok=n9qbDju1" width="1700" height="525" alt="school kids " title="students " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-banner" /> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary items"><p>As we noted on this blog on Wednesday, state legislatures are coming<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/activity-in-the-states"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/activity-in-the-states">back into session</a>, and Americans United is keeping a close eye on dangerous legislation sponsored by<a href="https://www.au.org/tags/project-blitz"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/tags/project-blitz">Project Blitz</a>.</p> <p>An early example is playing out in Indiana, where state Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn) is<a href="http://www.hartfordcitynewstimes.com/news/state/in-god-we-trust-required-on-school-walls-in-indiana/article_a89ae90c-fa97-5456-92a2-c8777c940cec.html"> </a><a href="http://www.hartfordcitynewstimes.com/news/state/in-god-we-trust-required-on-school-walls-in-indiana/article_a89ae90c-fa97-5456-92a2-c8777c940cec.html">pushing legislation</a> that would require public schools to post signs reading “In God We Trust.” Kruse’s bill would require that the signs be posted in every public school classroom and library.</p> <p>Bills like this were among the first unveiled by Project Blitz, whose theocratic sponsors want to erode the church-state wall. Their thinking was that because “In God We Trust” is the national motto, legislation like this would be easy to pass in some states. They could them move up the ladder to bills that enshrine religion-based discrimination in taxpayer-funded programs and strip LGBTQ Americans of their rights.</p> <p>Kruse is a longtime foe of church-state separation. He has repeatedly introduced legislation that would run afoul of that principle. He wants <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/deja-vu-all-over-again-ind-legislator-pushes-creation-science-in-public">creationism taught in public school science classes</a>, and last year proposed legislation that would have given public school students <a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/public-schools-should-not-give-academic-credit-for-bible-study">academic credit for Bible study classes</a> that they took offsite. In 2013 Kruse went so far as to<a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/constitution-shmonstitution-indiana-senator-wants-lord-s-prayer-in-public"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/blogs/wall-of-separation/constitution-shmonstitution-indiana-senator-wants-lord-s-prayer-in-public">propose a bill</a> that would have allowed public schools to open the day with recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. One problem: The scheme was blatantly unconstitutional. This sort of state-sponsored, coercive school prayer was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1962.</p> <p>Here’s the problem with Kruse’s latest bill: Public schools are charged with serving children from a variety of backgrounds – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Humanist, etc. They must welcome all, and large signs posted in every room that remind some students that they’re second-class citizens or that their beliefs are not worthy of respect aren’t the way to do that.</p> <p>State Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) said it well: “For children of different faith backgrounds, this will make school seem like a less welcoming place.”</p> <p>Indeed it will – and that’s exactly what public schools are not supposed to do. Kruse’s bill should be rejected.<a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member"> </a><a href="https://www.au.org/become-a-member">With your help</a>, Americans United will oppose this misguided measure and others like it.</p> <p> </p></div> <div class="field field--name-field-issues field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Issues</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/schools" hreflang="en">Schools</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/classroom-instruction" hreflang="en">Classroom Instruction</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/displays" hreflang="en">Displays</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/issues/government-support-of-religion" hreflang="en">Government Support Of Religion</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference"> <label>Tags</label> <div class="items"> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/god-we-trust" hreflang="en">in god we trust</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/ceremonial-deism" hreflang="en">Ceremonial Deism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/official-prayer-public-school" hreflang="en">official prayer in public school</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/creationism" hreflang="en">Creationism</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/indiana" hreflang="en">Indiana</a></div> <div class="item"><a href="/tags/project-blitz" hreflang="en">Project Blitz</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 10 Jan 2020 15:43:36 +0000 boston 15966 at https://www.au.org